Christmas Carols from the Golden Roof:
Innsbruck is a really charming town at any time of the year, but at Christmas it’s magical. There are several Christmas markets in this city, the main one being in the historic Old Town (Altstadt), right in front of the landmark Golden Roof– Innsbruck’s greatest tourist attraction.
A giant Christmas tree stands in the middle of the square, in front of the Golden Roof, and all around there are Christmas stalls selling traditional Christmas foods, Christmas decorations, handicrafts, candles, carved cribs and decorative wood or straw figures.
Although we have dinner planned for us later in the evening, the aroma of raclette cooking at a nearby stall is too hard to resist in the cold evening and we follow our nose to the stall.
We buy a plate of piping hot raclette and some glühwein, which by now is a regular feature at our Christmas market stops. There are a lot of people here tonight and we have to squeeze in the crowd to find a less exposed space to eat our food.
As we stand around refueling ourselves with the delicious grilled raclette on bread, live carols start up from the balcony of the Golden Roof building. How romantic it is to be standing in such a historical square, surrounded by beautifully preserved medieval facades and having carols filling the air above us. It gets even more amazing when the “Turmbläser” (Tower Brass Band) comes on. We didn’t know at the time but they play Christmas songs daily from the balcony of the Golden Roof. The pure sound of the trumpets from up above makes my hair stand on ends, especially when we have a rendition of the “Triumphant March” from Aida.
We finish our food and then stroll through the market to check out the stalls. Traditional delicacies such as Kiachln (piping hot doughnuts filled with Sauerkraut or jam) and Spatzln (small cheesy dumplings) are popular, but we’ve had our feed. There’s plenty of street entertainment about and at a couple of the stages huge crowds gather to enjoy the shows.
The Christmas market starts during Advent and the market in the Old Town operates from 11:00 to 20:30 daily. The Old Town district is also a shopping precint. Stick your head in the shops and you’ll see them loaded with all kinds of sweet Austrian temptations, speck and other foods. We all know how lethal those Austrian chocolates and deserts are and at Konditorei Munding, the most traditional confectioners in town, you can buy some ‘Golden Roof shingles’.
Apart from the Old Town, there are markets at:
- Marktplatz – features daily Punch and Judy shows, storytellers and a host of other attractions to keep children excited right up to Christmas Eve.
- Maria-Theresien-Straße – Innsbruck’s main boulevard turns into a ‘Christmas zone’ filled with Christmas market stalls.
- Hungerburg – Panoramachristkindlmarkt takes place in this mountain town where you can enjoy exceptional views and do Christmas shopping in the crisp mountain air.
Innsbruck’s Altstadt Christmas Market is one of my favourites and I’d definitely come back here again.